Please cast your vote for your favorite story.

The Big Race
Angel Wing
Furry Tale
Little So-Sew and the Seven Swans
The Agency
Lil' Red

Author Topic: Voting Now Closed for Short Story Challenge 52  (Read 2317 times)

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Voting Now Closed for Short Story Challenge 52
« on: July 09, 2009, 08:56:46 AM »
Here, for your enjoyment and votes, are the entries for Challenge 52.

We have some great stories submitted by very imaginative writers who have given me much enjoyment as I received and read their stories. 

So, read, enjoy and vote.

Voting will close 12:00 noon CST - Wed. July 15th.

1. The Big Race

“Hey, Fatso.”

Timmy the tortoise turned around and stared into the beady eyes of Frankie the hare.

“Aaah, made you look.” Frankie the hare brushed his paw through his hair as he bathed in the applause of his posse. The other animals in the lunchroom dropped their food and looked up. Timmy, unable to stare Frankie in the eyes, looked down at his plate of lettuce.

Helen the hippo, sitting peacefully next to Timmy, held out her hand and pointed at Frankie. “Oh no, you didn’t. Waltzing your skinny butt over here and spoiling my lunch like that.”

A smile crossed Frankie’s face as he checked her out. “Hey, baby.” He gave her a wink and a wave. “You must be tired of hanging out with this loser by now?” Frankie hit himself on his chest. “Why don’t you hang out with a real man?”

“Because I’m a hippo you idiot. Duh.”

The entire lunchroom broke into laughter, until Frankie looked up that is.
Even Fire-fly almost swallowed her own tongue.

“Look, Frankie.” Timmy the tortoise interrupted, “Just leave us alone.”

“Or what, fart breath?”

Timmy looked at all the animals as they laughed, and closed his eyes. Even Lee the flea, who’s his best friend, laughed at him the other day when Frankie wrote ‘wide load’ on the back of his shell.

Frankie nodded his head. “That’s what I thought. I’m the best everything in school. The best dresser, best looking, best jungle-stones player, fastest runner, best-”

“My grandmother moves faster than you,” Timmy chipped in, “and she’s dead!” The lunch room erupted in a mixture of laughter and amazement. Timmy’s normally green face was no strawberry red.

With his gang by his side, consisting of Heather the hyena and
Andrew the Anaconda, Frankie took a step forward. “What did you just say?”

Everyone kept quiet as Timmy the turtle stood up and turned towards Frankie. “I’m sick and tired of you’re nonsense. Always thinking you’re better than the rest of us. Well guess what? You’re not. You… you suck.”

A simultaneous gasp echoed from the onlookers while Frankie clinched his fists. “Well then let’s go, porky.”

Patti the pig shrieked out loud.

“He’s not talking to you, Patti,” whispered Cathy the crocodile.

“Me and you, outside. Right now.” said Frankie.

“No. I challenge you to a race.”

“What?” Helen the hippo exclaimed.

Eric the eagle, headmaster of Honey Fields High, flew into the lunchroom. “What’s going on here?”

“Tomorrow after school, stinky.” Frankie said as he returned to his seat.

“What were you thinking, Timmy?” Helen asked.

Timmy just shook his head.

Don the dove flew from across the room, accompanied by a squeaky voice, “Don’t worry, we’ll help you.” It was Max the mouse, clinging onto Don’s neck feathers.

-   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -

The race finally dawned. School went by as normal and everyone made their way to the big maple tree outside. Even Timmy’s mom, Ma tortoise as they called her, showed up to support her son. Timmy emerged from behind one of the classrooms with three of his best friends, Nick the nightingale, Lee the flea and of course, Helen the hippo.

“You sure this is gonna work?” Helen whispered.

Timmy forced a smile and whispered out the side of his mouth, “I sure hope so.”

The other school animals gathered around the starting line. Everyone was there: Skip the Kangaroo bounced up and down in the back to get a better view; Alice the aardvark went snorting past; and Lin the lion roared with excitement.

Even some of the other jungle animals showed up: Like Jade the jaguar, Ma tortoise’s hairstylist; Amanda the panda, the local beautician; and Gyppo the gecko, the jungle’s dentist, scrambled up a rock face to get a better view.

Frankie the hare stepped from the crowd to take his place next to Timmy at the starting line. “You ready to lose, loser?”

Timmy stretched out his leg muscles and looked up to Frankie, who was looking a bit pale. “Wow, how original.”

Joe the crow, who was the designated race official, plopped onto the dirt road, ready to start the race. “On your marks… Get set…Caw, caw!”

They were off, the crowd cheering frantically.

“Come on slowpoke!” Frankie shouted as he left a trail of dust behind him.

Everyone stared at Timmy as he slowly shuffled forward. He walked as fast as his four tiny legs could carry him. He was couple of minutes into the race when Don the dove swooped down from above and landed on his back. “Hey, buddy. How you doing?”

Timmy heaved heavily. “I’m… hanging in there.”

“Look to your right.”

Without thinking too much about it, Timmy looked. A big tree stood above a couple of bushes beside the road. Behind one of those bushes sat Frankie the hare, the top of ears pointing straight up. 

Timmy looked up at Don, but he was too out of breath to say anything.

“Max snuck some green berries into his lunch.”

“Wha… you mean…he’s pooping back there?”

“That should keep him busy for a while.” Don giggled as he flew away.

The race went on with Timmy the tortoise in the lead, until Frankie appeared in the background. He wasn’t exactly at full speed anymore, but still catching up.

“Not on your best day.” Frankie groaned as he ran past.

The race was drawing to a close and Frankie was speeding towards the finish line, when he suddenly stopped. His body swayed from side to side as he kept stumbling forward, and then he fell to the ground. Timmy just smiled and thought of his friends as he ran past a snoring Frankie.

A few minutes later Timmy the turtle turned the final corner and saw the entire school cheering for him – he was going to win.

“Not so fast.” Frankie said as he charged forward. Timmy stood up and his two hind legs and ran for his life. But he was still too slow, and Frankie was catching up. The crowd screamed frantically.

“Bombs away!” Don the dove hollered overhead. Frankie looked up at the commotion and got an eye full of bird poop for his curiosity. He stumbled forward and fell face first onto the dirt road. He looked up just in time to see Timmy the turtle cross the finish line and stumble into the arms of his friends.

The crowd went wild. Alycia the tiger ran up to Timmy and grabbed him before he could faint. “You did it, Timmy. You actually did it.” Timmy was too tired to say anything, so he just smiled.

Heather the hyena and Andrew the anaconda came up behind him and whispered in his ear. “We’re glad you won. We never liked Frankie a lot. That’s why we put sleeping shrubs into his Gatorade. Congratulations…friend”

Emma the giraffe picked Timmy up onto her back and paraded him around for everyone to see. Timmy the tortoise smiled his way into everyone’s hearts and into the story books.

2. Angel Wing

One night as Satan was flying to and fro around the earth, surveying his evil deeds and contemplating his next move, he heard a meek voice coming from a park bench near the river. The voice, of a young lady, asking why god? between sniffles and tears was his invitation to swoop down and get a foothold upon this lost soul.

She started as he approached her and he said, “Fear not, my name is Luke. I noticed you  in despair and was concerned. It isn’t safe for a lovely young lady such as yourself to be out here, all alone.”

She sniffled and sighed and said “there’s nothing lovely about me, not anymore”.

She brought her knees up to rest her arms on and lowered her face as if to hide from this stranger.

He reached out to pat her shoulder and she twitched away, he patted her again and this time she let him.
“There, now, tell me what is all this about?”

Through bleary eyes she looked up at him. He was tall, slender , his hair was long, blonde and with a slight wave.  His eyes were green. His skin was pale, which made his lips all the more read and his smile was slanted and could be mistaken for a sneer. His nose was prominent with a strong bony bridge and his eyebrows arched as if in question, waiting for her reply.  She continued to take survey of him checking out his attire and let out a brief laugh.

“Do you find my appearance funny” asked Luke.

“No, not really, you look okay enough I guess, it’s just that cape, “ she pointed, “the hat and cane,” she giggled again,  “you look like you just walked straight out to the 1800s.”
“Ah, yes” said Luke as he caressed his cape, “ I do like fine living and luxuries, don’t you?”

“I did once, a long time ago, before I lost everything” and the tears came again as she spoke.

“You have nothing, no one you can turn to for help?” he asked her.
“No.” “I lost my job. I’m homeless now because of it. Landlord kicked me out today. I have no friends, nothing. Only what I could shove in my back pack and just now, this bench and a fear for tomorrow.”

“No family either?” he asked as he slithered closer to her and put his arm about her shoulders.

“Not that really care, I can’t go back to them like this, a failure. They warned me that life in the big city would be difficult. They tried to stop me.”

“Stubborn Pride” he observed. “Perhaps I could be of some help.”

“What, like you got a job for me or something?”
“Or something”

She thought about it for a moment. “Oh no, Uh-uh no way, you’re a pimp aren’t you!?” She began to wrench away from his grasp.

He laughed, “ no dearest, nothing of the sort.”  “What I am is a gambler. I place wagers and I have one to offer you.”

“But I have nothing to put up on my part, I just told you…” He cut her off holding his finger to her lips.
“If you will do as I say, you will have your hearts desire.”  “But first I need to know you are worthy of it, how badly do you want it.”
“To be a fashion designer, a top selling icon! This is why I came here, to spread my wings, and… I failed.” “I want it more than anything, except for love. I want to find love one day as well.” “But what must I do?”

“Swim out into the river, there” he said pointing at where a swan couple and their offspring were floating
“and bring me back the mother swan”.

“That’s all? Sounds easy enough. Do swans bite?” So she dove into the water and did as Luke asked her. When she returned with the swan he stripped the feathers from it and cloaked her entire body in them. He then gave to her his cape and told her “now your name is Angel Wing” “you have the power to fly, and anytime you need money just reach into the pocket of the cape. You must live like this for 5 years. If after the 5 years you are still alive, you will owe me nothing and I will fulfill my promise to you. But if during that 5 years you should die, then you will be my slave for eternity.”

Suddenly but too late she realized to whom she had been talking. “You’ve turned me into a freak!” she screamed at him, “I’ll not live a day like this!” In a blink of an eye he vanished as she heard his echoing laughter.

For the next five years she blended into the nightlife of the city, wearing Satan’s cape to hide her wings. She often appeared to the homeless as an angel. Urban legends sprang up and where at once people first feared her as a ghostly apparition, they now looked forward to her visits as she seemed to have a bottom less pocketful of cash and would provide food and needful things.

Angel Wing became their protector, frightening off street gangs and thugs that meant harm and in some cases leading them with her tender heart from the life of destruction they were headed toward.

One time she heard the soft mewing of a discarded baby and she saved it from the dumpster, flying it speedily to the hospital ER where Dr. Starling worked. Tall, dark and handsome Dr. Starling. Although she would never let him know of her feelings, they became friends and she trusted him. After the initial shock of seeing her for the first time, he began to look forward to her ER visits, even though it meant another person had been injured. As the years went on he came to care for her as they spent more time together and got to know one another. They talked and laughed easily together and in spite of her unusual appearance, he go to know her. Her true personality, and he grew to love her. One night sitting together in the moonlight on the hospital roof, sharing a donut and sipping lattes, he kissed her and told her “I Love you Angel.” 

She shrugged away and laughed saying  “that’s not even my real name. My real name is Briana.”

“I love you , Briana” She smiled shyly at him and said, “tell me that again in about 18 months” and she fluttered away into the darkness.

Because the people came to love her, they protected her also from the authorities and skeptics. Those that tried and failed to capture her. And so she lived beyond the five years and once again met Satan at the bench near the river in the park. She returned his cape and he removed the feathers from her. He had no choice but to fulfill his promise. To this day as he flies above the earth he always smirks when he sees the sign atop the gleaming building, the fashion design house called Angel Wing.

3. Furry Tale

“Hey, Tracy,” Donna called, stuffing half a doughnut into her mouth. “Come and see what Cindy’s doing.”

Tracy waddled into the kitchen. “What?”

“She’s painting her toenails. Anyone would think she was going to the ball, too.”

“I am.” Cindy, sitting in bra and pants, applied the final brush strokes of gold varnish to a big toe and looked up at her sisters. “Uncle arranged it.”

“That old fairy,” Tracy scoffed. “How could he arrange it?”

“He works at the hotel, and is very friendly with the chauffeur who drives important guests around. Anyway, you shouldn’t use words like that. It’s not politically correct. He may be gay, but he is my godfather.”

“Your fairy godfather.” Tracy giggled, making the expanse of bosom bulging from her gown wobble like a half set blancmange.

Cindy shook her head. “I can’t believe you’re my sisters. You look like that fat milkman with shoes like canal barges, the one who’s always hanging around when Dad’s away.”

“Well, can you blame Mum? You know what they say. Big feet …”

Donna and Tracy were both wobbling now.

“God, you’re a couple of slags, you two. Anyway, the prince has got this glass slipper, and whoever it fits gets … well, I’m not quite sure what she gets, but he’s French, so it’ll be a change from the local lads, whatever it is. And it’s a four-and-a-half. 

“What is?”

“The slipper, what else?”

The sisters started wobbling again.

“Who says so?”

“Uncle told me. He speaks French and overheard the prince talking about it.”

“Has he seen it?”

“Dunno, but I want my foot to look nice when it’s on.”

Cindy pulled a little black dress over her size ten body. She’d bought it that morning at a charity shop. The sisters sneered.

“Good job it’s got straps,” Donna said. “You’ve got bugger-all else to hold it up with.”

Before Cindy could respond, Uncle appeared at the kitchen door. “Come on, Cindy girl. Your carriage awaits.”

A stretch limo was parked outside the front door. A chauffeur in full livery, right down to the boots and breeches, was trying to keep a group of kids from running their grubby hands over it. “Gerroff, you little bleeders,” he growled.

He held the door open for Cindy. The fat sisters made to climb in after her.

“Hang about. Nobody said nothing about three of you.”

“Oh, let ’em come, too,” Uncle said. “And don’t forget, Cindy, you’ve got to be back before midnight, or you’ll have to get a mini cab. The chauffeur has other things to do then.” He winked at the driver and climbed in the front beside him.

Somewhat nervously, the three sisters entered the ballroom. They weren’t used to such elegance. A disco in the back room of the local pub was more their scene.

The prince sat at a table beside the dance floor, looking rather splendid in a white dinner jacket. Now and then a girl would sit opposite him, he would take something out of a carrier bag, lean under the table and take hold of the girl’s foot. She would go away looking embarrassed and disappointed.

“He’s much older than I thought he’d be,” Donna whispered. “I’m not going to let him grab hold of my foot.”

“That’s only because you know perfectly well the slipper won’t fit,” Cindy said, squaring her shoulders. “I’m going over there.”

“Good evening, Mademoiselle.” The prince looked her up and down, one eyebrow raised and the tip of his tongue moistening his lips as his gaze lingered at her feet. “Please sit down.” He took a bottle from the ice bucket by his elbow. “You will join me in a glass of champagne? I think you could be the one I am looking for.”

Cindy had never drunk champagne, and the bubbles went up her nose, making her eyes water. But the prince didn’t notice. He had taken something from the carrier bag and was kneeling under the table.

She felt him remove her shoe, then she jerked her leg back. Something warm and soft had started to slide over her foot. It wasn’t glass, that was for sure. She looked under the table. The prince held something that looked like the kind of fur-trimmed slippers Grandma used to wear to go down the corner shop for a packet of fags and a bottle of stout, only brown.

“What the hell’s that?” she blurted.

“But it is the pantoufle en vair I use to find the girl I want to … well, never mind for now what I want to do. I thought everyone knew about my pantoufle.”

“My uncle speaks French, and he heard you say it was a glass slipper, not that grotty old thing like a dead rat you tried to put on my foot.”

“Ah, now I understand. He thought I said verre, which is glass, not vair, which is fur. But I am sure you are the Mademoiselle my pantoufle will fit perfectly. Would you like to stay the night here in this lovely hotel?”

Cindy stood up, eyes afire. “You keep your pantoufle to yourself, you dirty old pervert. And you can have your champagne back.” She threw what was left in her glass in his face.

Her sisters had come over to see what the fuss was about, and were wobbling again.

“Atta girl. Need any help?”

“No,” Cindy said. “I’m leaving. You two can do what you like.”

The sisters looked at each other and nodded. “Yeah, we’ve had enough of this poncey place. Come on, Cindy girl. Let’s get a cab and go to our local. We know where we are there.”

The three of them left arm in arm.

Entries continued in next post.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2009, 12:27:17 PM by Country4Gal »
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Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Continued: Entries for Short Story Challenge 52
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2009, 09:09:58 AM »

4. Little So-Sew and the Seven Swans

Far away, in the land of big apples, dwelt a dance manager who had seven sons and one daughter. The brothers were dancers, so graceful that everyone knew they were born to be principal dancers. Their sister, called Sophie, watched them from the stage wings every night. She loved to see them fly joyously across the stage. Oh, these were happy days, but they were not always to be so.

Lacking money, as all dance companies do, their father decided to marry a very wicked choreographer who had great amounts of money but little love for children. While the other dancers were given lead parts, the seven brothers were sent to the ballet barre. Then, the choreographer banished Sophie to the little costume closet. “Time to earn your keep,” she said. Kept apart, Sophie saw little of her brothers. She became known as Little So-Sew, for her little fingers were nimble, and she made wonderful costumes. But never for her brothers. “They are men,” the choreographer said. “They should wear manly clothes, drab and boring. Not sequins and feathers.” Truly, the wicked creature cursed the brothers to live as ugly ducklings instead of graceful swans.

Years passed. The brothers danced every night for the audiences of the city, yet never as they truly wished. Instead, they were only the muscles and means for other dancers to fly. As for Little So-Sew, she lost much of her youthful beauty. The long hours in the costume closet made her skin as white as snow. Her eyes grew large and luminous in order to see in the dim shadows. Her lips enlarged from the constant licking of the thread. However, her fingers remained nimble and her costumes were the most sought after in all the company.

One day her brothers came to find her in the dark little closet. They begged her to lift the curse upon them. If they did not dance in the fine tutus and feathers for which they longed, they would die. Little So-Sew knew she could never let that happen. “How can I break this spell?” said their sister. They talked about it nearly the whole night, until the rustling of taffeta awakened Little So-Sew as the brothers changed once more and left for rehearsal. As they flitted away, the youngest brother remained behind and laid his head in his sister’s lap while she stroked his fine and perfectly coifed hair. “I must save you,” she whispered to her brother before he left.

From out of the shadows, a fairy appeared, radiant in appearance and very much like a woman. “Your brothers can be released,” he said, “if you have the courage. Do you see these feathers in my hand? You must sew them into seven tutus fit for Swan Lake. Once your brothers appear in these costumes, the spell will be broken. But remember, from the moment you begin this task, should any ask, you cannot tell. Their very careers hang upon your tongue and your fingers.” As he finished speaking, the old fairy lightly touched Little So-Sew’s hand with a feather and disappeared. When her brothers returned to her, they were frightened to find her struck dumb, but seeing the feathers in her hand, they understood. The youngest fell at her feet and wept. Where his tears fell on Little So-Sew’s blisters, they disappeared.  

Each night thereafter, once her other work was done, Little So-Sew would return to the closet, pull out the white swan feathers, and fall to work. Her fingers bled, but she worked gladly. One night, a man entered her closet. “How did you come here, my dear?” he asked. But Little So-Sew could only shake her head and indicate the dressing dummies and stacks of cloth. The man smiled kindly. “I am called Prince.” He went on to explain that he was the dance company’s new producer. “Come with me,” he said. “You cannot remain in this closet. I will give you a new costume shop with sewing machines and towers of sorted bins and… and windows!” Little So-Sew only wept and wrung her hands, looking at her feathered tutus. Prince pulled her gently from the closet. “Someday, you will thank me for this.”

The handsome Prince made many changes in the dance company. Every day, he came to see Little So-Sew in her costume shop. How she grew to love him for his kindness and fashion sense. Oh! if only she could confide in him. But he did not ask and she could not tell.

As she grew near to completing the seventh tutu, she ran out of feathers. She knew more were in the gleaming costume shop. But how could she steal from the Prince? Then she steeled herself. “I must. My brothers shall not be denied their dream.” Praying for strength, Little So-Sew crept into the shop, silent and dark as a graveyard. She passed the high shelves, with looming bins of cloth and bric-a-brac. She tiptoed past the new machines, enclosed in their dustcovers like tombs. Finally, she reached the feather storage and gathered as many as she needed, no more and no less, and carried them back with her to the closet.

Alas, one person had seen her.

The next night, Little So-Sew moved about the stage, adjusting a hem here and a lace there. Suddenly a voice rang out. “Thief! We have a thief in our midst.” The entire company turned to look at the choreographer. The Prince strode to her. “What is the meaning of this?” he said. “We have a performance of Swan Lake in ten minutes!” The choreographer triumphantly told how Little So-Sew stole the feathers. When the Prince looked at Little So-Sew with disbelief, she could only hang her head, unable to speak a word in her defense.

Suddenly, her brothers leapt onto the stage, circling their sister. The eldest held their feathered tutus in his hands and threw them towards Little So-Sew in a blaze of white. Deftly, she caught them and threw one over each brother's head as he passed. As if by magic, the tutus flowed easily over the brothers, transforming them. Out of the closet at last, the brothers linked arms, standing on-pointe, dressed as swans! Only the youngest continued to molt like the Dying Swan, as Little So-Sew had not had time to sew his feathers tightly.

“Now I may speak,” exclaimed Little So-Sew. “I am innocent.”

“Yes, she is innocent,” said the eldest brother. Then the brothers encircled their sister, hiding her from view. When they stepped back, the little costume hag was transformed into a fabulously beautiful woman with pale skin, dark eyes, and pouty lips. The wicked choreographer ran howling from the stage, never to be seen again. The Prince stepped up to Sophie. “Work for me and we will show the world a Swan Lake such has never been seen before!” Sophie laughed delightedly and turned him down on the spot.

“My dear Prince Trockadero, we owe you much, but my brothers and I have come out of our drab little closet and must find our own way.” Then Sophie grinned up at him. “But how attached are you to your name?”

5. The Agency

Hans opened the door to the agency and flung his hat at the coat rack. It missed badly. “That’s pretty much the way my day has been going, Sis,” he said, picking up the fedora. “I hope you’ve got news to cheer me up.”

“Oh, sure,” said Gretel, fixing him with an icy stare. “The bank refused to extend our small business loan. How’s that for cheery news? Want more? The finance company repossessed your car this afternoon. I’ve been trying to reach you on your cell for the last two hours and you don’t answer. When are you going to start being responsible?”

“Easy, kiddo. Easy. I think maybe I left my phone on the desk in my office. I’ll just go…”

“Wait,” said Gretel, stepping in front of her brother. “That’s what I was calling you about. There’s a client in there. A real live, honest-to-goodness client and she reeks of money. Don’t blow it. This may be our last chance to get this agency out of hock.”

“Client, eh?”  Hansel pushed open the door to his office with Gretel right on his heels. “Sorry to keep you waiting, miss. Another case had me…” He lost his voice when the mane of blonde hair turned, revealing wide blue eyes and full, pouting lips. It didn’t help when the cantilevered front came ever closer.

“You have a reputation of keeping women waiting, Mr. Private Detective.”

“Hans. Um, you can call me Hans…and you are Miss…?”

“Grumbacher. Gertrude Grumbacher…but you can call me Trudy.”

“Trudy, well…they’re lovely. I mean, that’s a lovely name…”

“Miss Grumbacher isn’t an eye test, Hans. I’m sure she has a reason for being here.”

“Oh, of course. Well, Miss Grumbacher…er, Trudy, what can the Agency do for you?”

“My brother, Siegfried, has been kidnapped. He’s only fifteen. I’ll be devastated if you can’t bring him back.”

“Do you know who kidnapped him?” Hans took out his notebook. “Have there been any ransom demands.”

“I’m sure it was his drug dealer. Siegfried called me last night and said he was in trouble. I knew he was taking drugs but I hoped he would grow out of it. He said he needed ten thousand dollars to make things right with his dealer.

“This morning I was bringing him the money. He was going to meet me on the corner of Montgomery and Elm. I was only a half a block away when a black van pulled up to the corner and two men dragged him inside. I followed them in a taxi into the section of the city they call “The Woods” and that’s where the cabbie lost them.

“Oh, Hans, if I give you this ten thousand as a retainer, can you help me find poor Siegfried?”

“Let me get you a receipt for that, Dearie,” said Gretel, snatching the money. “My brother has solved cases with far less to go on.” She steered Trudy toward the door. “I’m sure you’ll be hearing from us in a day or two. Good-bye.”

“Well, that was rude, Sis. I didn’t even get the girl’s number. You’re lucky you’re family or I wouldn’t have hired you.”

“I have all her information on the standard form, Hans, and you hired me because I’m a better shot. I’m also the only one around here smart enough to figure out these cases.”

“Okay, okay. Not so loud. I have a reputation to protect, y’know?”

“We don’t have a lot of time on this one, so put the ego away, mister. We already know that the Wicked Witch Cartel controls the drug trade in The Woods. We should stake out their headquarters. If they have the kid there, he’ll be too hot to keep there for long.”

Hansel and Gretel sat in her steel gray Fiesta. The cartel headquarters remained quiet as the minutes became hours and the hours became unbearable. Dawn was streaking the eastern sky when movement caught Hansel’s eye.

“Wake up, Sis. We got action.” Two men carried a third to a waiting van and pulled away from the curb. “Don’t lose them. Blend into the traffic but don’t get too close.”

“I know how to tail, Hans.”

The van left the city and traveled deep into suburbia. Suddenly, it made a right onto a single lane gravel road. Gretel turned left into a coffee shop.

“Helluva time to think of coffee, Sis. We’re gonna lose them.”

“Single lane, Hans. Nowhere to hide. Could even be a trap. We’ll wait in the coffee shop. We have a clear view of the road. We’ll see what happens.” They were on their second cup when the van reappeared, slowly retracing its route.

“So we follow them again?”

“No,” Gretel said. “They’re just going back to headquarters. I want to know what’s at the other end of that gravel road. Let’s go.”

Half a mile down the gravel road, the trees gave way to marijuana plants taller than the car. Another half mile brought them to a clearing and a small, strange-looking bungalow. Abandoning the car, they approached the house with caution, guns at the ready.

Gretel broke off a piece of the outer wall and tasted it. “Damn, that’s crystallized cocaine.”

“See, I knew this was a crack house.”

“Oh, shut up, Hans. You did not. Boost me up so I can see in the window.”

Hans did as his sister asked. “Anything?”

“Not yet.”

“I ain’t gonna hold you all day. Hurry up.”

“Okay, there’s the kid tied up near the back door and there’s some old crone cooking something on the stove. Probably meth. Bring me down.”

“Sheesh. ‘Bout time. Are you cheating on your diet again?”

“You don’t pay me enough to cheat on my diet. Here’s the plan. I go in the back door and grab the kid. You take the front, and keep the old lady distracted. Fast and clean. Go.”

Surprisingly, Gretel found the back door unlocked. Slipping in undetected, she grabbed the victim and dragged him outside. Unaware of his sister’s success, Hans found the front door unyielding and put half a dozen rounds from his .44 Magnum through the lock before kicking it open.

Surprised by the intrusion, the crone pulled a revolver and fired a shot in the direction of the front door. The muzzle flash ignited the ether and the resulting explosion leveled the building and set fire to the surrounding marijuana crop.

As they raced back down the gravel road through the burning cannabis, Siegfried suggested they make the next left so as to stay downwind of the smoke.

Back at the office, Trudy was gushing with gratitude and suggesting to Hans ever more detailed ways she could show it. Her father had provided another ten thousand dollars in appreciation of his son’s safe return. Gretel counted the money while her brother took credit for everything.

“It’s dangerous work,” she heard her brother say, “but somebody has to do it.”

“Yes, it is dangerous,” she said softly, “but somebody has to take care of you.”

Entries continued in next post.
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Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Continued: Entries for Short Story Challenge 52
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2009, 09:12:02 AM »

6. Lil' Red

Lorra stood motionless in front of the mirror, assessing last night’s damages. The bruises on her face were hideous, and the make-up she’d bought at the local shop wasn’t worth a dime. Her deep emerald eyes still looked like her own, but the dark circles under them she could do without. The only thing untouched, perfect, were the fiery curls atop her head.

Last night could have been a lot worse. Who knew family get-togethers could be so rough? But she wouldn’t have missed it for the world. She’d been waiting for that night since she could remember.

Lorra ran her delicate fingers over the tiny ridges on the back of her neck. The scars were barely visible now. She smiled, ignoring the pain that spread through her cheeks. For the first time in her life she felt alive.

“Lorra!” called her mother. “Time’s a wasting girl. I need you to get this cake over to Mr. Larry’s.”

“I’ll be there in a minute!”

She took one last glance in the mirror before darting to the closet. The gifts she’d received were overflowing from boxes and bags she’d hastily thrown onto the floor. Later she’d have to sort through them, but for today she wanted her favorite dress. The long, cotton sun dress matched the color of her eyes. She loved wearing it on long walks when the weather permitted.

The dress slid down her raised arms and over her curved frame. Like wax, it molded to the shape of her body. A sigh escaped Lorra’s lips. She loved the feel of the cotton on her skin and couldn’t resist performing a little pirouette in the middle of the room. In years past, running a cake over to Mr. Larry’s was not something to get excited over, but this year would be different.

Lorra slipped on her sandals and skipped down the stairs.

“Okay, I’m ready.”

“You’re awfully chipper today,” her mother said. “No showing off now. Mr. Larry’s not been feeling well lately.”

“Okay, Mom.”

“I mean it Lorra. Just because you’re eighteen doesn’t mean you can just go wild.”

“Mom, I know the rules.”

“Okay, just try to be back for dinner—”

Lorra grabbed the cake off the counter and dashed out the back, letting the screen door slam behind her. She could hear her mother’s irate calls as she ran down the dirt road.


The walk to Mr. Larry’s took Lorra through the Bitterroot Woods, an old growth forest so thick with plant life the sun’s rays fought to reach the floor. Only enough light filtered through to see the narrow winding path that led to the old cabin. Beyond the path was a wall of vegetation, impenetrable to the eye. Wolves were thought to roam these woods. The last thing anyone would want to do is wander from the path. But every year some foolish tourist would come into town, wanting to hike the woods, never to be seen again.

The trek usually left Lorra feeling anxious, but today wonderment replaced all fear. The forest glistened and hummed with life. She watched the squirrels playing tag among the branches and listened to the birds as they tried to out-sing one another. Her senses picked out every sight, sound and smell.

“Amazing!” Lorra giggled in delight.

Half way through the walk Lorra stopped to pick flowers. While admiring their fragrance a doe and her fawn broke through the green wall. The doe stopped in the middle of the path, letting the fawn proceed to the other side. It stared at Lorra with large, gentle eyes.

Closing her eyes, Lorra breathed in the deer’s musty smell, letting it caress her senses. In her mind she could see the deer running through the forest, leaping over fallen trees. She could feel its heart beating, faster and faster. A tingling sensation began to creep over Lorra’s muscles, urging her to run, to chase. But when she opened her eyes the deer was gone.

The experience distracted Lorra long enough for her to realize the sun had begun its descent below the horizon. Darkness cast a shadow over everything. If she was going to make it home for dinner, she needed to get moving.


Mr. Larry’s cabin stood on a hill at the end of the path. Its decrepit foundation, littered with cracks, caused the structure to lean slightly to the right. If it weren’t for the small light coming from the far window one might think it abandoned, but Lorra knew better. She stood rigid in front of the door, muscles tight. A bead of sweat ran down from her temple.

She knocked, Toc—toc, and heard the creaking of a bed frame from inside the cabin.

“Is that my Lil’ Red?”

Lorra’s lips curled in disgust. Mr. Larry was the only person who still called her Lil’ Red, a childhood nickname she hoped would have died by now.

“Yes, it’s me Mr. Larry. May I come in, please?” The sweeter, and more innocent, she sounded the better. Lorra didn’t want to give away her surprise too soon.

“Pull the latch and come on in dear.”

Lorra stepped inside the dusty cabin. Even with the one light she swore it was darker inside than outside. Lucky for her, she could see in any light.

“Just put the cake on the table and come sit with me a bit sweetie.”

“Okay, Mr. Larry,” she said, through clenched teeth. Lorra let the cake slip through her fingers. It landed with a thud on the floor.

The door to his bedroom lay open. Mr. Larry sat propped up in his ancient, brass iron bed. His room reeked of urine and body odor. Lorra did her best to block it out.

“Come here child,” he said, patting his hand on the dirty, filth stained mattress.

Lorra sat on the edge of bed. She didn’t look down, but she could feel Mr. Larry’s hand on her thigh. Anger boiled inside her body.

“My, my how you have grown Lorra.”

She could feel his other hand moving up her back. The anger inside her turned to hatred. Memories raced through her mind, taking her back to the first day she’d brought Mr. Larry a cake, his hands all over her small eight year old body.

“Lorra, why don’t you show Mr. Larry how much you love him.”

“First, I want to show you what I got for my birthday,” she said, and let out an ear piercing howl.

Lorra turned and crouched to face Mr. Larry, who had pushed himself against the back of the headboard, his eyes wide with fear. She wanted to look him in the face when she ripped out his throat.

The bed shook, and Lorra smelled fear staining Mr. Larry’s pants. Screams and growls erupted from her mouth, as her bones cracked and moved to shape her new body. Every muscle burned and stretched. Her dress fell from her in shreds, replaced by a thick red coat that shimmered even in the low light.

Mom won’t be happy about this, Lorra thought, as she lunged for Mr. Larry’s throat.

Don't forget to vote for your favorite story.

« Last Edit: July 09, 2009, 09:13:35 AM by Country4Gal »
MWC Charity Publications.
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Voting Now Closed for Short Story Challenge 52
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2009, 01:40:09 PM »
A little over 8 hours left for you to vote.

Come on folk, we want a good number of members to vote and show support for those who entered the challenge.

« Last Edit: July 16, 2009, 12:28:20 PM by Country4Gal »
MWC Charity Publications.
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Voting Open for Short Story Challenge 52
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2009, 09:18:07 AM »
We have a tie in the voting.

So, in order to find one clear winner, I've decided to extend the voting one day - which makes the deadline July 16th at 8:00 am Central Standard Time. (so I don't have to be up at midnight. )

Personally, I think all those who submitted are winners - but we need just one.

Come on folks - we want a winner.
MWC Charity Publications.
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Cathy C

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Re: Voting Open for Short Story Challenge 52
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2009, 05:17:39 PM »

All great entries - well done everyone
Novel: Where There’s Smoke. Published by Fireborn publishing http://amzn.to/2tZKNCn

Short Story: A Killer Week Published by Bridge House http://amzn.to/2rhLVAX